(Post updated September 14, 2023)
One of the most frequent questions I get is how Seton Hall Law handles law school applications with multiple LSAT or GRE scores, whether someone should include an addendum explaining an increase or decrease in score, and whether they should retest. Before we get there, let’s talk about exam choice.
Many law schools, Seton Hall included, accept both the LSAT and GRE for consideration, but you should choose one test and stick with it. Often, if the law school is presented both BOTH a GRE and a LSAT, the LSAT will control consideration of the application because the ABA mandates that is what we report regardless of which score we use in the decision process.
Should you take another LSAT?
Considering retaking the LSAT or GRE is a weighty decision; even a slight increase in score can make a difference in admissions decisions but preparing for another test requires both time and money. This is not a decision an admissions professional can make for an applicant. However, if there is something identifiable that you think interfered with your performance on the day of the test, it could be worth your while to give the test another shot. Here are some situations where retesting might make sense:
Did you actually prepare for the TEST?
When you prepared for the LSAT or GRE did you look at study materials? Did you take practice tests under timed testing conditions? If you went into the test cold or under-prepared and you think re-studying could improve your score, it might be worth looking into a test prep class or studying more seriously for a subsequent administration.
Did "life" happen before the TEST?
One of the most frequent ways a test score is derailed is when something stressful or unfortunate happens right before the test. This can range from a snowstorm to a death or illness in the family. We have even seen situations where testing centers interfered with test-takers’ performances: marching band practice out front, lack of air conditioning, or proctors’ misunderstanding of procedure and protocol. Most recently, test takers have been struggling remote testing services and remote proctors. In these situations, test takers often find that their scores can improve when they are emotionally ready for the test, have a clear mind, and are in optimal testing conditions.
Have you learned something about the test itself?
Sometimes, based on performance in high school and college where they didn’t have to study hard, applicants truly believe they are prepared for the LSAT or GRE until they get the actual test in front of them. If, after taking the test you realized you needed to prepare differently or tackle the test in another way, taking the LSAT or GRE twice may make sense in your situation.
What Happens If You Retake?
The answer to this question depends on the test itself. For the LSAT, Seton Hall Law only takes the highest score into consideration. While most schools in this country follow the same protocol, it is worth checking with each individual school to confirm – there may still be a few who average multiple test scores for either admission considerations or scholarship awards. For the GRE, Seton Hall Law looks at each test administration discreetly, we do not SuperScore your test. Similar to the LSAT, you should check with an individual school to see their practice when it comes to the GRE.
Should You Include An Addendum?
LSAT and GRE scores often do not change much with subsequent testing. Because small changes are relatively common, an addendum is not necessary to explain such a change in score. What is more unusual is a substantial jump in score. In those cases, we typically do recommend an addendum so you can explain the discrepancy (both positive jumps and negative jumps).
In most cases we find that the scenarios discussed above are typically the culprits in bringing down a test score – someone didn’t study properly or was sick, etc. The reason you should submit an addendum is to make clear that the higher score is more typical of your testing performance, not the lower score. Otherwise, the committee cannot know if something interfered with your ability to succeed on the day of the lower score, or if you just got lucky with a subsequent test.
As always, it is worth checking with the specific schools to which you are applying to see what their admissions committees prefer in applications.
Best of luck with your preparations!